Thursday, May 31, 2012

Accessing drinking water in Jhanjhrola Khera – A private water tanker perspective

Visit to Farrukhnagar, a small town close to the two intervention villages in Gurgaon, indicates presence of a booming market, not just of the daily commodities, but also of water. The groundwater in this region is sweet, unlike the groundwater in Jhanjhrola Khera and main residential area in Sultanpur; the two intervention villages. Whereas in Sultanpur, villagers are able to access sweet drinking water from the area across the railway line, villagers in Jhanjhrola Khera are dependent on either the PHED (Public Health Engineering Department) supplied water or private water tankers for their drinking water demand. A few villagers in Jhanjhrola Khera also fetch water from a handpump in the village temple. Many villagers believe that the water in this handpump is also turning saline. Despite this, villagers continue to drink this, either because they have got used to this water or simply because there is no alternative arrangement. Thus, for some people it is not choice but compulsion that drives them to drink water from the village handpump. For many households, this water source is about 500 metres away, but in absence of any other option, they end up walking such a long distance to fetch water. In many households, the PHED supplied water is also criticized. As per them, water is supplied to them without any filtration. Many believe that this water is responsible for several diseases including skin disorders.

In such a scenario, a preferred bet for many households is to buy drinking water from private tankers. A total of about 5-6 people from Jhanjhrola Khera are into water tanker business.  All of them operate from Farrukhnagar. Out of the 5-6 water providers, 2 operate in the village and sell drinking water to the villagers. Sometimes, they also operate water tankers on behalf of the PHED, in order to supply water to villages where there is a fault with PHED water distribution system. Many water suppliers, supply water for the infrastructure companies, where sweet water is required for construction work. Approximate monthly earning of an individual in water business is about 35 to 40 thousand Rupees.

At village level, supply of the water from tankers leads to quarrels and conflicts, especially if the water supplied by PHED does not come due to any technical fault. Many villagers, who have the ability to pay for buying water from tankers, wish that there were more water suppliers in the village. They believe that since the water tanker supplies groundwater, unlike the water supplied by PHED which is surface water, it is best suited for drinking. They strongly believe that since the groundwater is filtered by natural process, it is more suited for drinking compared to surface water. Interestingly, there are a few villagers who find the PHED supplied water to be better suited for drinking compared to the water supplied by tankers! 

1 comment:

  1. Pranay,there is also a whole politics related with the water crises in JK.Hierarchy, is also seemed to be a dominating features in overall distribution of PHED water and also the village hand pumps water.The speed of flow of water to those areas where Sarpanch stay is much faster than those areas where the 'Dalit' people(Harijan etc) stay. By the time water reaches to them it is only the few lucky ones who could fill their 'matkas' with PHED water.